A Superior Court judge ruled June 16 that a civil rights lawsuit challenging California’s assisted suicide law will go forward.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Ottolia denied California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, which had asked the judge to decide the case against the plaintiffs without a trial. Five California physicians and the American Academy of Medical Ethics brought the legal challenge last year. The judge scheduled a trial setting conference for Oct. 20.

The ruling is “a really big deal,” said attorney Alexandra Snyder, executive director of Life Legal Defense Foundation, which represents the plaintiffs. “The End of Life Option Act is a dangerous law that exposes vulnerable individuals to direct and indirect pressure to commit suicide.”

By treating those diagnosed with six months or less to live differently than other patients, the 2015 End of Life Option Act violates the patients’ due process and equal protection rights under the California and U.S. Constitutions, the plaintiffs argue. The law authorizes doctors to prescribe lethal prescriptions to any patient diagnosed by two doctors as having six months or less to live.

The lawsuit also contends the law was unconstitutionally passed during an extraordinary legislative session called specifically to address Medi-Cal funding shortfalls, after the California Legislature repeatedly rejected physician assisted suicide legislation during regular session.

“I am very heartened to hear about this decision,” said Dr. George Delgado, one of the five physicians suing to overturn the law. “Physician-assisted suicide does damage to patients who are in very difficult situations. It does damage to the medical profession. It compromises the sacred trust between physician and patient which should be based on healing, not based on killing.”

Full story at Catholic San Francisco.